Spokane Valley Online
The Spokane Valley News Herald
City of Spokane Valley, WA
County looking to collect lost sewer fees

02/08/2013

By MIKE HUFFMAN
Managing Editor

 

It was a path that county officials never anticipated having to go down.
However, in the past month, Spokane County Utilities Director Bruce Rawls has made two presentations – one to county commissioners, the other to the Spokane Valley City Council – on the very real possibility of seeking foreclosures on some property owners who owe thousands of dollars in unpaid sewer bills.

“I honestly never thought we would have to foreclose on a property,” Rawls told the council on Jan. 20. “I was wrong.”
Unlike a water or electrical utility, county workers simply cannot stop toilets from flushing when bills are overdue. So it’s become easy for some county residents – up to about 1,800 altogether – to ignore their sewer bills.

The worst offenders, however, are landlords with multiple properties. In one case, Rawls said, a woman with four parcels owes Spokane County, with accrued interest, $38,000.

“I don’t think she’s ever paid a bill,” Rawls said.
County officials wanted to give the Valley council fair warning before they saw media reports or started getting questions from city residents. But with a total of unpaid sewer bills that can result in liens at around $3 million, something needs change beyond a “strongly worded letter”, Rawls said.

County commissioners have authorized that Rawls take it to at least that step – writing a letter to the worst offenders – to let them know that foreclosure is a very real possibility. However, the commissioners would have to authorize any such move with a formal resolution.

County officials want those with past-due amounts to be able to make payments in a reasonable manner – not a lump sum. They also plan on making the online e-billing system easier to use.

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TheSpokane Valley News Herald
is the City of Spokane Valley, Washington's official Newspaper. The City Council of the City of Spokane Valley, Washington named the Spokane Valley News Herald as the city's "official" newspaper. The designation means the Spokane Valley News Herald will publish the city's legal notices on a contract basis for one year.

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Phone: (509) 924-2440
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